Seven albums into one of country music’s most-respected and most-unpredictable careers, award-winning singer/songwriter Dierks Bentley continues to grow. His latest evolution comes in the form of RISER, a project due out Feb. 25, 2014 that stands as his most personal to date.
Written and recorded in the year following his father’s death, the album draws its title from “I’m A Riser,” a song about resilience and determination. “I’m A Riser” works as a commentary on spiritual, personal and societal recommitment, but it also applies to the competitive battlefield of the music industry. It’s particularly appropriate for an album about rejuvenation delivered by Bentley.
“Life in general has a way of knocking you down,” Bentley says. “It’s different reasons for different folks – could be personal reasons, could be family reasons, your job, drugs, alcohol. That song really applies to anybody that’s lived. There have always been those moments when we have to get back up and get on our feet. They are defining moments…breakthrough moments.”
Accepting change – and growing from it – is a key theme in RISER, and it is reflected by the tone of the album, which demonstrates a new artistic depth and an extra level of intensity for Bentley. It evolves from track to track, exuding a range of emotions, all the while impressing upon the listener that Bentley’s instinct for a hit is stronger than ever. Bentley made significant reconfigurations in his creative team to shake up his sonic texture without sacrificing his commercial drive. He re-enlisted executive producer Arturo Buenahora, Jr., who worked on Bentley’s first two albums; and utilized producer Ross Copperman, who co-wrote “Tip It On Back” for Bentley’s previous album Home.
The new atmosphere yielded the most focused and intense vocals of Bentley’s career. Some were recorded live with the band as the musicians laid down the tracks, but others were captured in less-than-obvious locales. One track’s vocal was recorded on Bentley’s tour bus. Still others were cut at Copperman’s house with the producer literally at Bentley’s side, pushing him to some of his most emotional, and seasoned, performances.
“It’s not even really a studio,” Bentley says of Copperman’s set-up. “It’s just kind of a corner of the house he’s taken over, so there was a kind of intimacy to the vocal process. It was important to get out of the studio and sing in different places, and to do it with other people in the room. That way, you have an audience and you get a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, when it’s feeling good, not feeling good. It brings a little more emotion and energy out of your voice.”
Since making a life-altering drive with his father from Phoenix to Nashville when he was 19 years old, Bentley has forged his own path in an industry built predominantly on formula. He has mixed elements of modern country, classic country, bluegrass and rock, maintaining an unmistakable identity while constantly reinventing his sound. His album Home debuted at No. 1 and spawned three consecutive chart-topping hits, marking 10 career No. 1 songs for Bentley as a singer and songwriter. His five previous studio albums have sold more than five million copies, garnered 11 GRAMMY nominations and earned him an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry.
Kacey Musgraves’ CMA Album of the Year, Golden Hour, has been named Apple Music’s Album of the Year, as well.
If you’re visiting downtown Nashville and stop by Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, Dierks Bentley’s “Whiskey Row,” Alan Jackson’s AJ’s Goodtime Bar and Blake Shelton’s Ole Red, among others, you’ll be helping out the local Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The country stars and other businesses are taking part in the Jingle All the Broadway initiative to help raise money and awareness for the hospital. It continues through Christmas Day.
Lauren Alaina will make her late-night TV debut with her latest song, “Ladies in the ‘90s,” on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers on February 19th.
Esquire magazine released its list of the Top 10 Best Country Albums of 2018, and UMG Nashville has several on the list including Brothers Osborne’s Port Saint Joe (No. 7), Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain (No. 5), Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour (No. 4) and Eric Church’s Desperate Man (No. 2). Ashley McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere, John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness and Pistol Annies’ Interstate Gospel were also on the list.
Kacey’s CMA Album of the Year, Golden Hour, summed up the last chapter of her life. “The title Golden Hour just seemed to sum up this chapter of my life perfectly. I mean not only am I from a town called Golden, Texas, but leading up to making this record, there’s been a lot of beauty in my atmosphere and in my world. I love the picture that pops in my head when I hear that title. It’s also an actual song on the record, but it’s just this warm, golden feeling that I’m really happy to have in my life, and I found it to be the perfect title for this record.”
Dierks took to the Rocky Mountain resort town of Telluride, Colorado, which every summer plays host to a celebrated bluegrass festival. Owing to his well-documented love of the genre, Bentley has attended the festival multiple times over the years, always making a point to slow down and tune back in to the world around him. But after performing on the festival’s main stage in 2017, the beautiful surroundings became more than a much-needed getaway, it reflected where he is in life; his past, present and future and the album reflected the happiness he felt.
“I think the unifying thread that runs through The Mountain would be just happiness and positivity, just a real kind of vibe of being grateful in the moment that you’re in, you know? The album really started off just as a tiny idea of something to do with the West,” says Dierks. “The album kind of wrote itself to be that story of just songs like ‘Living,’ ‘Can’t Bring Me Down’ and ‘The Mountain,’ just the vibe of just being really grateful and inspired by your surroundings and not just the mountain vibe, but the surroundings on the road too. The people that I meet on the road that are climbing their own personal mountains and the stuff they’re trying to overcome. I hear so many stories backstage at the Meet-and-Greets, and I was unknowingly inspired by those stories, and I think that gives the whole Mountain [album] a great metaphor between the actual mountains and the mountains people are pursuing in their own lives.”
Dierks Bentley (unifying thread in The Mountain) OC: …their own lives. 1:22
“I think the unifying thread that runs through The Mountain would be just happiness and positivity, just a real kind of vibe of being grateful in the moment that you’re in, you know? The album really started off just as a tiny idea of something to do with the West. I wasn’t sure if it was a sonic idea or some sort of lyric or an overall vibe, and I didn’t really know where to go. I just put it on the backburner and kept just doing what we were doing which was touring nonstop. I had some shows up there. I played a show, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June (2017) and it was just so inspiring and so fun, and I kinda had the idea to come back and write there and I did. I came back in August, then I came back and recorded there. That initial little idea I had, I thought I wasn’t going to work on that all, but it turns out I was just kind of in a back door way. And the album kind of wrote itself to be that story of just songs like ‘Living,’ ‘Can’t Bring Me Down’ and ‘The Mountain,’ just the vibe of just being really grateful and inspired by your surroundings and not just the mountain vibe, but the surroundings on the road too. The people that I meet on the road that are climbing their own personal mountains and the stuff they’re trying to overcome. I hear so many stories backstage at the Meet-and-Greets, and I was unknowingly inspired by those stories, and I think that gives the whole Mountain [album] a great metaphor between the actual mountains and the mountains people are pursuing in their own lives.”
Little Big Town paid tribute to the legendary Cher at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night (December 2nd). This year’s honorees include Reba McEntire, Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the creators of Hamilton. The Kennedy Center honors will air December 26th at 8pm ET on CBS.
Shania Twain is scheduled to appear on Live With Kelly & Ryan on Friday (December 7th).
Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Shania Twain and Vince Gill are among the artists vying for tour awards at the Pollstar Awards, which will be handed out February 13th in Los Angeles. Keith, Luke, Chris and Shania are up for Best Country Tour, alongside Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett. Kacey is nominated in the all-genre Best Support/Special Guest category for opening Harry Styles’ tour, while Vince up for Best Touring Musician for his stint with the Eagles.
Dierks Bentley and Jon Pardi are among the artists who will pay tribute to the late Troy Gentry (Montgomery Gentry)at a benefit concert, C-Ya on the Flip Side. Lee Brice, Tracy Lawrence, Justin Moore, Rascal Flatts and Dustin Lynch, among others will also perform at the event taking place January 9th at the Grand Ole Opry. Proceeds will go to a handful of organizations including the Troy Gentry Foundation, the Opry Trust, T.J. Martell Foundation, Make-A-Wish and many others.